Six Tips for Managing the Stress of Home Health Scheduling
Scheduling Home Health visits can be like working a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle are: productivity requirements, geographical area and individual patient schedules and it’s our job to try and make them fit together properly.
Agency Expectations: First, each agency has productivity standards that need to be met. Therefore, as a PT, OT or SLP this means you will need to manage your schedule wisely to meet or exceed agency expectations.
Coverage Area: Second, location provides a challenge depending on your agency’s policy. Most PT, OT or SLP are assigned to a “coverage area.” The goal is to minimize the distance between patients.
Patient Schedules: Third, individual patient schedules add a layer of complexity. For example, physician appointments, sleep schedules, other health care provider visits and caregiver availability need to be accounted for.
Here are some tips that work for me that really help minimize stress when scheduling my home health visits:
- Call the day before. Most patients are available to discuss scheduling in the afternoon/evening. In my experience scheduling in the morning is less effective due to patients not being awake to answer your phone call.
- Plot out your visits on a map. Some home health EMRs provide this feature. This allows you to geographically plot your visits to minimize drive time.
- Use the following statements to assist with scheduling:
- “I am only in your area in the morning/afternoon.”
- “I am only available in the afternoon/morning at____. (time)”
- Voicemail message suggestions:
- Hello, this is ______ from (AGENCY) . I am calling to schedule a (PT, OT, SLP) visit for (Patient Name). I have an opening at 11 am tomorrow. If this time does not work for you please call back to reschedule. (Note, if I do not hear back I will call again prior to driving to the visit).
- When possible schedule home health revisits in person. If I will be following the patient, I prefer to discuss future visits right at the evaluation. Scheduling a week worth of visits tends to work the best. This allows the patient to check their schedule and put my appointments on their calendar to reduce scheduling conflicts and saving my time on the phone.
- Lastly, it is important to realize that you cannot accommodate every individual patient’s scheduling needs. As a PT, OT or SLP our desire is to always bend and meet the need but this will lead to frustration and potential more difficulty in meeting your agency’s productivity requirements.
Hope these suggestions help!